Glossary: past tense


The past tense is a grammatical marking on verbs. (See also inflection.) E.g. the verb in She sounded tired is a past tense form (compare the present tense form in She sounds tired).

Verbs in the past tense are commonly used to:

  • talk about the past
  • talk about imagined situations
  • make a request sound more polite.

Most verbs take a suffix –ed, to form their past tense, but many commonly-used verbs are irregular.

See also tense.

  • Tom and Chris showed me their new TV. [names an event in the past]
  • Antonio went on holiday to Brazil. [names an event in the past; irregular past of go]
  • I wish I had a puppy. [names an imagined situation, not a situation in the past]
  • I was hoping you'd help tomorrow. [makes an implied request sound more polite]

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